Monday, March 05, 2007

Nightmare on Kalihiwai Street

One thing that takes a little getting used to here is the various breeds of wild beasts roaming about. Our last home was a rustic farmhouse-style dwelling, and it seemed to be designed to make the residents at one with nature. Our new condo is much more modern, so luckily we expect far fewer (so far none) encounters. With the nightmare in the past, we can now tell the tale that haunted our dreams for the past 6 weeks.

The cockroaches are loathsome. Here, they can grow to be as big as your thumb, and some also fly. Although at home these guys would be the stuff nightmares are made of, here they’re still not the most dreaded beast. There is one creature that will paralyze you with fear. One creature that makes the appendage-sized cockroaches seem pleasant. This beast is loathed above all others. It is the dreaded centipede.

You may think you know about centipedes. Perhaps you’ve even seen one. You have no idea. Here, the centipedes can grow to be a foot long. They can live for 5 years, and are as thick as your finger. They have huge tentacles emerging from their heads. And they bite. A bite is rumored to cause pain on the level of a gunshot wound. Although these things can’t actually kill a human, if you’re bitten, you’ll wish you were dead.

Our first encounter with one of these beasts happened about a week into our stay. We were forewarned when we arrived, so Jessica was constantly on guard. Then, it happened. As we were getting ready for bed one night, Jessica spotted the tail end of one of these things slither under a door in our bedroom. It was fatter than her middle finger. She handled this surprisingly well, by only letting out a piercing shriek and fleeing for her life to higher ground on top of the bed. A little background information: Jessica has a severe phobia of all things long and multi-legged due to a caterpillar incident in her childhood. She’s been paralyzed with fear back home from similar creatures 1/20 of the size. Under the circumstances, it’s a miracle that she didn’t faint and go into cardiac arrest from the shock.

Conor came running, armed with a large stick and hiking boots. He cautiously staked out the room while Jessica remained frozen on top of the bed. After searching for several minutes, he found nothing. They waited a bit, and finally Conor removed his hiking boots and cautiously continued getting ready for bed. They were discussing what to do next. All of the sudden, Conor stopped mid-sentence and screamed “HOLY SH*T!!” In one swift movement, he catapulted his 175 pounds on top of the bed faster than an Olympic high jumper. Then, in horror, we watched as the entire beast came into view. It was reddish black, and 8 inches long. Living back east, we could have never imagined that such evil actually existed outside of Hollywood films.

It scuttled across the floor, running the entire length of the bedroom, and found sanctuary in a dark corner. At this point, Conor carefully crawled down from the bed and went to re-arm himself. Jessica trembled in fear, plugging her ears and gently sobbing. Conor returned to fight the battle of a lifetime. With a giant stick, he stabbed and prodded as this beast hissed and fought with everything he had. Even after being decapitated, the many pairs of legs still writhed against the cold stone floor. We didn’t feel settled until the corpse had been severed into four pieces.

Although Conor wanted to take a picture, Jessica wouldn’t allow it. That picture will forever be implanted in her memory – she didn’t want to have to deal with it on her hard drive as well. We did find a photo from a Kauai exterminator’s web site, and it's the closest likeness we’ve found to the beast we met that night. If you think you can handle it, click here. But don't say you haven't been warned.

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